Introducing your New Baby to your Fur Baby

When we brought our newborn home for the first time, we weren’t sure how our dog was going to accept the new addition. We were hopeful, but nervous about how the interaction would go. Would our dog be jealous? Afraid? Dare I say it… aggressive? Luckily, our good boy took it in stride. A year later, the two are best pals. Here are some guidelines to set them up for success when introducing your new baby to your fur baby:

fur baby

Refresh Your Dog’s Training
Now is the time to make sure your dog listens to you when you say “sit,” “down,” or “drop it.” The last thing you want is for your dog to jump up on you while you are holding the baby. It’s a good idea to teach them “no bark.” When you inevitably order food instead of cooking, you don’t want Fido to lose their mind when the doorbell rings and wake up your sleeping newborn. If you are inexperienced with training dogs, there are some helpful videos on YouTube. There are also several pet stores and boarding facilities in the Cedar Rapids area which offer training.

Make Sure Your Dog is Comfortable with the Baby Gear, Smells, and Sounds
Some advice books will tell you to get a blanket from the hospital where you will deliver, or to carry around a fake baby doll to prepare your dog ahead of time for the real thing. As a new mom, I can tell you the honest truth that there was no way I would have had time for that! Instead, you can start to get your dog comfortable by bringing the carseat inside and unboxing the baby swing. Take the stroller with you on a walk (Bonus! This will help you learn how to use the gear too!). Help your dog get use to the new smells that will come with a baby. You can do this by having things like baby powder, lotion, and (clean) diapers around the house. Just make sure your dog knows that diapers and pacifiers are not food or toys!

Introduce them while Maintaining Boundaries
When the moment finally comes for your dog to meet their new sibling, make sure to do so safely. It’s really important that this first interaction goes well so that your pet will associate a new baby with something positive and not scary or intimidating. Allow your pet to sniff at the new arrival, but not to be invasive. If your pet is the type to jump or get over-stimulated, introduce them with a barrier like a baby gate to allow them time to transition.

Always Supervise Your Dog and Baby
Our dog is extremely calm and docile (I’m actually convinced that I have the best dog ever). We love and trust him, but do not trust him so much that we are setting him up for failure. I operate on the motto that I would rather be safe than sorry. I do not leave my baby unsupervised with our dog, and I always encourage respect between the two. While they interact, I teach my baby to be gentle and I always monitor my dog for signs of stress.

Give Your Dog Lots of Love and Attention
These days, we find ourselves doing a lot more stroller walks instead of dog park outings. We try to make sure that our dog has his own toys that he knows are his, so he isn’t tempted by our baby’s. Inevitably, a new baby will take a lot of your focus that might have been previously spent on your pet. You don’t want your dog to feel jealous of his new sibling. Try to make a point to give your pet lots of affection and attention, especially in the first few weeks.

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